South African wireless antenna specialist Poynting is embarking on a breakthrough new engineering adventure that will make global news. The growing company, South Africa’s largest wireless antenna producer, has been selected to design and build antennas for the iconic BLOODHOUND SCC, the ultimate supersonic car that will attempt to beat the current world land speed record in 2015 and 2016 at Hakskeenpan in the Northern Cape.
Members of the BLOODHOUND SSC team have held the world land speed record for 30 consecutive years, and have raised the American record by 22%. The first record attempts will take place in 2015, during which the car will make approximately 20 runs with the objective of achieving a supersonic record (1 300 km/h). Royal Air Force fighter pilot Andy Green, current holder of the World Land Speed Record at 1 227 km/h, will be in the cockpit.
The BLOODHOUND SSC team will return to SA later, possibly in 2016, to aim for 1 000 mph (1 610 km/h).
The jet and rocket powered vehicle is currently being built by a team of 30 engineers in a special technical centre near Bristol in the UK. Some of the BLOODHOUND SSC team members will be visiting Poynting at the end of October to discuss requirements and ideas.
“We are so excited and inspired to have been selected from local and international companies making their mark in wireless antenna technology,” says Engineering Project Manager Lara Viljoen. “With a highly qualified and experienced team, we believe that Poynting has the research, skill and manufacturing capacity to add real value to this project. Nothing is impossible at Poynting and this kind of project is exactly what our team of engineers thrive on!”
Joining Viljoen on the project team are respected scientist and Poynting Chief Technical Officer Dr Derek Nitch, Research and Development Manager Mark Haarhoff and Mechanical Engineer Eduard Walker, as well as other Poynting staff.
“We’re relishing the challenge of designing antennas that will facilitate essential communications, data sharing and monitoring between the supersonic vehicle and the base stations,” says Viljoen. “A key objective of the project is inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers by sharing this engineering adventure and engaging educators, learners and families. As well as the excitement of aiming for 1 610 km/h, that is the key reason we’re involved in this landmark project.”
BLOODHOUND SCC will be a world-first live open data project where all the data on research, design, manufacturing and testing of the car is shared through up to 300 media channels, thanks to sponsor MTN and the antennas produced by Poynting. The data will be used to video stream data in real-time so that the world can view the events.
“BLOODHOUND SCC needs reliable high speed data communications from the vehicle to the MTN LTE base stations in order to stream the data,” Viljoen explains. “Poynting’s deliverable will be qualified antennas which will be mounted inside the vehicle fin and will be connected via RF cables to the User Equipment Sierra Wireless modules – in order to maximize the throughput bandwidth for the data link.” The process of developing the antenna and proposed solution is according to Poynting’s current specialised antenna development methodologies and capabilities, which will involve a series of simulations, prototypes, tests and qualifications.
The BLOODHOUND SSC Project is investing heavily in educational outreach and public communication. Over 40 000 South African learners in 368 schools have been introduced to BLOODHOUND SCC to date, and the target is to register 1 000 schools by the end of 2014. “Poynting will be engaging in the opportunity to be a part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Corporate Ambassador Programme,” says Viljoen.
“We’ll be visiting a number of schools to inspire learners and educators to use the Project’s free educational resources to make science, maths and engineering come alive in the classroom.”
BLOODHOUND education director in South Africa Dave Rowley said, “The enthusiasm of the Poynting team to support the education programme is a great bonus and will enable us to reach more schools and to also develop curriculum resource materials based on the antenna research they are developing for the project. It’s a great opportunity for us to show a very practical example of wireless communications being captured at very high speeds.”
“The BLOODHOUND Project will focus the eyes of the world on South Africa and the Northern Cape,” says Viljoen.
“We’re so proud to be a part of putting South African technology on the global map.”